Team India finish unbeaten on Lanka tour

Sometimes, wanting something is enough to make it come true. On other occasions, like today, it is enough to offset the balance. That Sri Lanka wanted to win was obvious. With them at their backs and the Men in Blue all around, they pushed hard from the word go. Too hard, it turned out as they lost too many wickets to maintain their frenetic pace.

It was another win for the visitors as India won the solitary T20I with ease to stay unbeaten on the Lankan tour. Going into the match, India had never lost a T20I match on the island. With its conclusion, the visitors maintain their spotless record.

Just like the 5th ODI, the T20I had a delayed start too due to heavy rain earlier. The outfield was wet but an exceptional effort by the ground staff allowed the match to start 40 minutes after the scheduled time. With the dew coming in later and the wet surface, it was always going to be interesting whether spin will take part or not.

The toss happened at 7:25 PM local time and Virat Kohli won it yet again. The Indian skipper opted to bowl first as there was a slight drizzle in the air when the toss took place. Team India made two changes from their previous ODI, Shardul Thakur and Ajinkya Rahane missed out, whereas KL Rahul and Axar Patel were back in the national colours. Sri Lanka made wholesale changes to their line-up though from the previous clash.

The Lankans knew they had to post a strong total on the board and Niroshan Dickwella got them off to a flying start. He struck a hat-trick of boundaries off Jasprit Bumrah early on and set the tone. Upul Tharanga tried to do the same off Bhuvneshwar Kumar but just after the first four, the skipper was undone by a knuckle ball from the swing bowler that saw his stumps being disturbed. Dilshan Munaweera quickly struck a couple of boundaries and ensured the hosts weren’t under any sort of pressure.

Dickwella and Munaweera were dealing in boundaries and the Indian bowlers were unable to tie down the run-flow. Jasprit Bumrah quickly used his tricks and delivered an angling away delivery to Dickwella who tried to paddle it away initially but adjusted himself to play it towards third man. He simply failed to execute the shot and Jasprit Bumrah took out the danger-man. Angelo Mathews was then dismissed, thanks to a smart piece of glovework by Dhoni who whipped the bails off in a flash and stumped the former Lankan skipper. Yuzvendra Chahal picked up his first scalp and the hosts lost a bit of a momentum. Munaweera kept hitting fours and sixes though and didn’t slow down. He brought up his maiden T20I fifty and soon after that got out when he went after Kuldeep Yadav.

Thisara Perera looked to capitalize on the quick start but he dragged one back onto his stumps off Chahal. Shanaka followed Perera when he failed to read a googly and was out LBW for a duck. The leggie finished with three wickets, although he went for runs. Sri Lanka suddenly had a task on their hands to finish off strongly but they had lost far too many wickets.

Prasanna holed out for not much and Kuldeep Yadav had his second wicket. The chinaman had a brilliant day with the ball and finished with 2/20 off his four overs. Ashan Priyanjan’s run-a-ball 40 towards the end helped the hosts reach the 170-run mark. It was a competitive total on the board and Sri Lanka did well to reach there after the stutter in the middle overs.

Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul walked in as the openers and looked to give Team India a promising start. Rahul set the tone early on but Rohit Sharma was dismissed by his IPL teammate Malinga. The opener mistimed one in the air and Perera took a safe catch from mid-on. Rahul was looking all set for a big score but he was dismissed by Prasanna, after a brilliant catch by Shanaka. The fielder dived full-length to his left to grab that stunner. With pressure building up and Kohli out in the middle, it looked like it will be another Kohli masterclass in the offing.

He took the onus on himself, striking yet another fifty with his bat. This was his fourth consecutive half-century against Sri Lanka. Incidentally, it was also his fourth in T20Is against Sri Lanka in as many games, taking him past Martin Guptill in the run-scorers list in T20Is. He is now third in the top run-getter list in this format. From the other end, Manish Pandey was quietly playing a brisk knock and shared a solid partnership with the Indian skipper. Virat Kohli also surpassed 15,000 international runs in the process, thus becoming the quickest one in terms of innings to reach this landmark.

Kohli looked at ease facing the Lankan bowlers, making batting look so easy. He now holds the record for most runs while chasing in T20Is. With a few runs to go, Virat Kohli got out to Udana as he hit one straight to deep mid-wicket. His 54-ball 82 was the deciding factor in the run chase. Manish Pandey brought up his fifty off the winning shot and Team India romped home by 7 wickets to stay unbeaten on the tour.

3 Tests, 5 ODIs and a one-off T20I and no wins. Sri Lanka had a horror outing against the visitors and simply didn’t click as a unit. Five different Sri Lankan captains in a total of nine international games, this sums up their tour as they were struggled to find players to lead their side. With injuries troubling them, they had to bring in new players who couldn’t bag a win for their side. It was a highly successful tour for team India and it was simply the opposite for the hosts. Sri Lanka must reassess their game and come back strongly in their future matches. India, on the other hand, will go home victorious and face the Aussies in a couple of weeks.

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